Finish within sight: De Villiers and von Zitzewitz ready for final “Dakar” spurt
La Serena, 18th January 2013 Without risk through the final major test posed by the 2013 Dakar Rally and on to the finish: On the penultimate stage of the “Dakar”, running from Copiapó to La Serena, Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz took another step towards the finish in Santiago de Chile, where the final stage of the 2013 “Dakar” will be contested after an overall route of 8000+ kilometres. With the finish in sight, the chances are good that the 2009 winners will improve on their 2012 overall position. Last year the South African and his German co-driver were classified third. They currently occupy a comfortable second place behind leader Stéphane Peterhansel in the X-raid-Mini, and have a 44:53 minute advantage over Leonid Novitskiy in third place, also driving an X-raid Mini.
Secure in the knowledge that Friday’s 13th stage could prove extremely challenging, “Ginny” and “Schnietz“ tackled its 441 timed kilometres in a controlled and consistent fashion. A single navigation error or a slip in the extended dunes of Copiapó could result in the loss of their comfortable overall position. Rather than take risks, de Villiers and von Zitzewitz piloted their “made in South Africa” Toyota Hilux undramatically to the stage finish. “That was not a stage to attack on,” de Villiers said afterwards. “The danger of making a mistake with fatal consequences was just too big.” Instead the Three-O-One kept rolling with the top competitors and could even cut Peterhansel’s lead to 44:38 minutes.
“Once again the 13th ‘Dakar’ stage proved tough, as expected. In the dunes we were twice forced to take double runs in order to cross them, otherwise everything ran to plan. Once again our Toyota Hilux was reliable, having proved its reliability on all sorts of terrain. Today’s stage was certainly not one on which to attack. We have one day left ahead of us, and we aim to retain second place at the finish.”
Giniel de Villiers after leg 13
“Our preparation for the challenges of navigating today’s stage was certainly worth gold. We made it through the day error-free. When we were forced to take double runs at the dunes, Giniel was calm as we knew we had alternatives planned. On Saturday on the way to Santiago de Chile it will again be twisty and really dusty, but the finish is within sight, and we will do everything to reach it.”
Dirk von Zitzewitz after leg 13
Results: Dakar Rally overall classification after leg 13
- 01. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (F/F), Mini, 36:44.46 Std.
- 02. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZA/D), Toyota, 37:29.24 Std.
- 03. Leonid Novitzkiy/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS/RUS), Mini, 38:14.17 Std.
- 05. Nani Roma/Michel Périn (E/F), Mini, 38:25.12 Std.
- 05. Orlando Terranova/Paulo Fiuza (ARG/PRT), BMW, 38:37.26 Std.
Coming up: Preview Stage 14
La Serena–Santiago de Chile
(Connection: 122 km, special stage: 111 km, connection: 220 km, special stage: 15, connection: 158)
Final spurt to the “Dakar” finish. Hard surface roads and a sinuous route similar to World Rally Championship stages face the crews as they head towards Santiago de Chile. In addition: hilly terrain, dust galore and gravel. Attempting to make up for lost time here means risking the lot in the final metres of the “Dakar”. Push too hard, and a wheel will permanently hang over the edge; overtake in choking dust, and all could be lost in a split-second. As a fitting highlight of a long and tough rally, the final stage features a short, spectacular section shortly before the finish.
Three-O-One, in the driving seat: Giniel de Villiers
If awards were given out for versatility in motorsport, Giniel de Villiers would be a hot favourite to pick up the special prize for lifetime achievement. The likeable, down-to-earth racing driver from Stellenbosch in South Africa won five national touring car titles in South Africa, defeating his subsequent Team Principal in the Volkswagen works team Kris Nissen and other top European stars on the way, before switching to marathon rallying. Giniel de Villiers describes himself as an “outdoorsy person”, who loves being in the fresh air. Whether on a jet ski or a mountain bike, de Villiers is always looking for action. However, in both his sporting and private lives, intelligent discretion is one of the real hallmarks of “Ginny”. As such, his second career away from tarmacked roads and permanent racetracks has also been a distinguished one: together with his co-driver at the time, Tina Thörner (S), he finished second at the 2006 Dakar Rally with Volkswagen – a milestone, as this was at the time the highest place ever achieved by a pair in a diesel-powered vehicle. His big breakthrough came when the Dakar Rally made its debut outside of the Black Continent in 2009: with co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz at his side, the pair achieved a historic success: the first victory by an African, the first in a diesel car, and the first ever win in South America.
Three-O-One, calling the shots: Dirk von Zitzewitz
Dirk von Zitzewitz has literally been at home in the navigator’s seat since he took his first breath: the German was born in precisely the spot, in which he has enjoyed his greatest sporting success: in the passenger seat. The co-driver from Ostholstein is regarded as one of the best in his profession. In 2009, he and his driver Giniel de Villiers won the first “Dakar “ever to be held in South America. New territory? For Dirk von Zitzewitz, the terrain away from tarmacked roads is the perfect place to demonstrate his natural, instinctive talent for finding the right way. His success and reputation are no fluke: even as a teenager, Zitzewitz used to play “Dakar” with a friend and a rickety old moped. Back then, the event was still establishing itself and was yet to develop the international prestige it enjoys today. Despite this, it still cast a spell on the off-road enthusiast from north Germany. Dirk von Zitzewitz won the German Enduro Championship title on 15 occasions, before going on to compete in three “Dakars” on a motorbike. As a co-driver to a number of different drivers, he has competed in the mother of all desert rallies every year since 2002. In 2012 Zitzewitz came full circle: it was ten years since he made his first appearance in a car – again a privately run Toyota. In 2013 the De-Villiers-von-Zitzewitz-Toyota combination enters the next round. In the meantime, he has achieved great success: this is reflected in ten podiums – five of which were victories – 33 stage wins and 31 days leading events in a car. As such, Dirk von Zitzewitz is already one of the most successful co-drivers of all time on the marathon rally scene.
The “Dakar” on TV
Saturday, 19th January 2013
18:45 Eurosport 2 2013 Dakar Rally, leg 14, interviews at the finish (live)
Sunday, 20th January 2013
00:00 Eurosport 2013 Dakar Rally, leg 14, summary (re-run)
Monday, 21th January 2013
00:00 Eurosport 2013 Dakar Rally, overall summary